The gender pay gap in British TV has been a massive talking point of late, with a number of female actors, presenters and broadcasters revealed to be paid less than their male counterparts, prompting public outcry and apologies from broadcasters.
However, there’s one star who definitely won’t be picking up a lower salary than anyone else in the same job – newly-crowned Doctor Who lead Jodie Whittaker, whose pay cheque was a point of speculation after her predecessor Peter Capaldi’s own renumeration was at least partially revealed in a published BBC report.
Capaldi’s published pay in the 2017 BBC report was listed as between £200,000-£249,999, but there’s a good chance the the actor’s full salary was higher thanks to BBC Worldwide – the Corporation’s commercial arm selling global rights and merchandise – who were not required to reveal details of the amount they paid top talent. Given Doctor Who’s global success, the actor playing the Doctor is expected to earn extra income from the BBC’s commercial wing.
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“I absolutely know I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” Whittaker confirmed to press including RadioTimes.com during a recent visit to the Doctor Who set.
“It is not the show to set that standard.”
As Whittaker went on to suggest, paying the first female Doctor less money for the very fact of her gender would have been a big own goal for the BBC, so it shouldn’t be a surprise they’ve kept things fair for her first series – especially considering the positive attention that her casting has already attracted.
“This show is not the show that’s going to do that, and then have that [pay] revelation be the sidebar. It isn’t. Thank God,” she said. “So that’s not going to have to fall on an awkward press conference.
“But am I aware of that [issue]? Yeah,” she concluded.
“But also, so is everyone [else],” added Who showrunner Chris Chibnall. “So that’s not just Jodie’s responsibility.”
More generally, Whittaker said that she was excited to blaze a trail for female actors by playing the type of role that wasn’t usually open to them, even as she hoped that one day her gender wouldn’t be such a talking point.
“When I was growing up, those characters didn’t look like us, doing those things,” she said.
“Those were the white guys running about, saving the day and doing really cool stuff. And if you were lucky, when I was a kid, you maybe clapped at the side. And maybe passed something to help the really heroic moment happen.
“So to be in the moment of change for that is incredibly exciting, particularly because it’s in a world where it’s absolutely true of this character.”
“It is a moment and I’m a part of it and I’m proud of it,” she continued.
“But I can’t wait for it to not be a moment as well. So that someone going to drama school at 18 doesn’t need to think, ‘There aren’t any jobs for me.’ Because I know that – I was told ‘Just so you know, you guys, it’s going to be harder, because there’s less jobs.’
“Right OK, cool. I’m 36, I went to drama school at 20. Hopefully now that doesn’t have to be the message.”
“There’s lots of different actors in the show, and there’s different actors rather than different sexes, if you see what I mean,” she concluded, laying out the new series’ egalitarian attitude.
“We’re just all actors, and that’s what we feel like this show represents. It’s just actors, and creatives and writers telling a story.”
Sounds like the sort of fair society the Doctor herself would be proud of.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on Sunday 7th October